Strengthening American Democracy

Our Goal

The American Democracy initiative endeavored to strengthen three core democratic practices, specifically, protecting voting rights, improving elections administration, and reducing the impact of money in politics.

The American Democracy initiative has concluded and the Foundation is not accepting new proposals.

Why We Support This Work

The Foundation has long supported work designed to protect democratic principles and practices and ensure equal opportunity and fair outcomes in the fields of education, juvenile justice, housing, and community development. During the period of the American Democracy initiative, MacArthur made $30 million in grants, over three election cycles, addressing the institutions and processes of U.S. democracy: voting rights, elections administration, and campaign finance reform. Final grants in this area were awarded in 2016.

Our Approach

The Foundation’s approach was to make significant, multi-year grants to anchor institutions in the democracy field to stabilize and strengthen many important organizations. These organizations conducted work to:

  1. Advance a modern system of voting administration that will be more cost-efficient and resistant to political pressures
  2. Push back against laws that have the result of preventing groups of eligible citizens from exercising their right to vote
  3. Advocate for better regulation of and advance the public dialogue about the influence of money in politics

Funding Priorities

Elections Administration

The Foundation supported policy analysis and practical interventions aimed at improving voting machine security, ballot design, online voter registration, voting access and processes to modernize voting practices.

Voting Rights

In this area, the Foundation supported research and policy analysis and litigation to challenge discriminatory voting law changes at the state level.

Campaign Finance

The Foundation supported both legal work to advance models of public financing of campaigns and to promote disclosure of campaign contributions and independent expenditures, as well as data collection and analysis.


Updated August 2017

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